Tejuosho Market: Court Refuses Defendant’s Bid to Halt Proceedings

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The Federal High Court in Lagos has refused an application by a firm, Stomberg Engineering Limited, seeking to halt proceedings in the hearing of a suit over the ownership of Tejuosho Ultramodern Market Phase 1, Yaba.
 
The firm had urged the court, presided over by Justice Okon Abang, to stay proceedings pending the determination of its appeal at the Court of Appeal, Lagos.
 
Stomberg had earlier brought an application seeking to dismiss the suit filed by Access Bank Plc for being an abuse of court process, but Justice Abang had refused it.
 
The firm said it filed an appeal against the ruling, and therefore applied for a stay of further proceedings before Justice Abang.
 
Ruling on the application last week, the judge held there was no evidence before him that an appeal had been filed.
 
He said what was before him was a motion filed by Stomberg urging the appellate court to extend the time to enable it compile records of appeal.
 
Besides, the judge said he had earlier dismissed a similar application by the defendant, who is the market's developer.
 
"The court had expected counsel for the defendant/applicant to withdraw this motion since a similar one had been dismissed, but he argued it as it it was totally fresh. The application dated 12th of December 2013 is a nullity and ought not to have been filed. The application is a sheer waste of judicial time," he said.
 
Dismissing the application, Justice Abang said there is no valid appeal against his decision made on May 10 last year.
 
"The application is very strange. There is no valid appeal against the decision of this court dated 10th of May 2013," he said, describing his decision as "an avoidable ruling."
 
Stomberg Engineering and its owner Mr Dolapo Atinmo, allegedly entered into separate funding agreements with Access Bank and First Bank of Nigeria Plc over the market.
 
In their bid to recover their money, both banks filed separate suits against Stomberg Engineering and Atinmo.
 
Access Bank's lawyer Mr Kunle Ogunba (SAN), who was appointed as the the market's Receiver/Manager, initiated contempt proceedings against FirstBank officials, alleging that they flouted the court’s order by obstructing the performance of his functions.
 
Meanwhile, FirstBank, through its lawyer, Mr Kemi Balogun, has filed an application seeking to be joined as a defendant in the suit.
 
In response to the contempt charge, FirstBank accused Access Bank of misleading the court and feeding it with half truth.
 
“The facts deposed to in the affidavit in support of FORM 49 are half-truth and same was intentionally averred and initiated by the plaintiff (Access Bank) to mislead the honourable court and embarrass the Managing Director the said bank,” one of First Bank’s affidavits opposing the contempt charge reads in part.
 
There was an argument on which of the pending applications, the one for contempt and the one for joinder, should be heard first. Justice Abang adjourned till May 27 for ruling.
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